Islamabad (Pakistan): Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has delayed the issuance of notification regarding the formation of the inquiry committee on the Broadsheet issue, said a senior cabinet member to The Express Tribune on Sunday.
The controversy is related to the payment of interest that rose to USD 10 million. In March 2019, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) gave a USD 20 million final award in the Broadsheet case. However, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)/Imran-led government did not pay that amount and due to interest, the award amount rose to USD 28.7 million by December 2020.
The opposition as well as some lawyers have said that the government should give an explanation on USD 8 to 10 million interest which had been added to the award payment. The country faced USD 5,000 interest daily in the Broadsheet case, reported The Express Tribune.
Earlier, the debit of billions of rupees from the Pakistan High Commission in the UK accounts also caused friction between the NAB and the Foreign Office, as the later demands of the former to remit its amount (USD 235,000) to the high commission at the earliest.
During an inter-ministerial meeting three weeks ago, a senior Foreign Office official stated that the NAB should take responsibility for the matter and must reply to this embarrassment, reported The Express Tribune.
During the meeting, according to sources, the Foreign Office official posed three questions to the NAB director general — Firstly, when would the amount be transferred to the Pakistan High Commission in London; secondly, why authorization was issued to the Pakistan High Commission to pay the amount; and thirdly, why should the NAB not pay the bill for the new legal proceedings on the issue. However, the NAB official had sought time to consult his seniors in this regard.
Earlier this week, the federal cabinet had ordered the inquiry, headed by a former judge of the Supreme Court or a high court, to examine the circumstances relating to the Broadsheet agreement and subsequent arbitration proceedings and present its report and recommendation in 45 days, reported The Express Tribune.
Later the government announced that the inquiry would be led by former Supreme Court judge Azmat Saeed Sheikh. However, it has yet to issue the notification, which is creating doubts in people’s minds. A senior cabinet member insisted that “everything will be decided” on Monday, it added.
The appointment of former Supreme Court judge Azmat Saeed created widespread criticism from the opposition parties as well as some sections of the media.
Saeed was employed as the deputy prosecutor general of NAB in the year 2000 for a period of one year. He was appointed as special prosecutor of NAB in 2001 to pursue cases before the accountability courts at Attock Fort and Rawalpindi.
They (opposition) suggested that government must review its decision on his nomination. Similarly, they also suggest that Term of References (ToRs) – also approved by the cabinet in its meeting on Tuesday – should be reviewed, reported The Express Tribune.
Legal experts have indicated that the appointment of Justice (retd) Sheikh could be challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on the basis of conflict of interest because the former judge had worked as deputy/special prosecutor general of the NAB.
Meanwhile, the cabinet has decided that the inquiry committee would include a senior officer from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), a senior lawyer appointed by Prime Minister Imran Khan and an official of the office of the Advocate General for Pakistan, reported The Express Tribune.